Government launches crackdown on fake holiday sickness claims

Ministers believe the claims are driving up costs

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Sunday 09 July 2017 00:06
Cheap all-inclusive holidays to Spain are under threat
Cheap all-inclusive holidays to Spain are under threat

Ministers will today announce measures to crack down on bogus holiday sickness claims that they say are driving up the cost of taking the family abroad.

The Independent reported in April that “fraudulent” insurance claims of food poisoning by holidaymakers hoping to recoup the cost of all-inclusive deals are leading to such package deals being taken off the market altogether.

Lawyers have branded the practice, which is apparently fuelled by unscrupulous touts, as spinning “out of control” because of the emergence of claims management companies that promise holidaymakers money off their trip.

In response to the reports, the Government now plans to introduce a series of caps on the cost of settling sickness claims to make their costs predictable to tour operators.

A system of “fixed recoverable costs” already operates for claims affecting operators in England and Wales, but tour operators that sell holidays abroad are not currently covered.

If the Government is successful in extending the scheme to overseas holidays then tour operators will instead pay a prescribed sum depending on the value of the claim. The Independent understands that the Government will be launching a call for evidence on whether to proceed fully with the extension of the costs regime.

Justice Secretary David Lidington said: “Our message to those who make false holiday sickness claims is clear – your actions are damaging and will not be tolerated.

“We are addressing this issue, and will continue to explore further steps we can take. This Government is absolutely determined to tackle the compensation culture which has penalised the honest majority for too long.”

The new policy follows a call for action by the Government from the travel industry, reported by The Independent at the end of June.

The Foreign Office currently warns holidaymakers in Spain: “You should only consider pursuing a complaint or claim if you have genuinely suffered from injury or illness. If you make a false or fraudulent claim, you may face legal proceedings in the UK or Spain.”

The Government is set to beef up the warning to remind holidaymakers they could face years in prison for fraud if caught lying about such sickness.

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